VACAVILLE — Imposing national uniformity on American schools has failed before – and that may be the fate of Common Core as well, more than 100 people who attended a Vacaville town hall heard Wednesday.
“It’s going my way,” said Williamson Evers of the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto. “It’s going our way.”
Evers, a critic of the Common Core, noted the failure of new math in the 1960s and the collapse of an effort similar to Common Core during the Clinton administration.
But Daly Jordan-Koch, a fourth-grade teacher in Vallejo and former chairman of a California Teachers Association curriculum committee, called the new standards an incredible opportunity for California. Jeannette LaFors of The Education Trust-West in Oakland agreed and called Common Core “a common language of expectations.”
Wendy Hart, a member of the board of education for the largest school district in Utah, warned that Common Core allows an unknown group of experts to standardize what is taught in American schools and take away the voice of local citizens in how their schools are run.
She read from an 1816 from letter of Thomas Jefferson in which he wrote the secret of government “is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many.”
The town hall, hosted by CA Common Core Concerns, which questions the new standards, featured spirited challenges to Common Core by people who attended the two-hour town hall at the Ulatis Community Center.
“I’m not seeing a whole lot of benefit,” said Doris Robinson, 67, of Vallejo. She asked, why would anybody sign on to this?
“These are our kids. They don’t belong to the federal government. They belong to us,” she said.
A Fairfield mother of a fifth-grade child asked who would repay her son for the learning time lost because of what she described as the Common Core experiment. The woman, who declined to give her name, said her son was a guinea pig right now.
When panel member Jordan-Koch said California has elected legislators “who are paying attention to what our kids need,” his statement was followed by laughter from many in the crowd.
Panel member Evers said Common Core replaces literature with informal texts – such as statements from the Federal Reserve bank of San Francisco – for students to read.
“This is a calamity,” he said. “There is no recourse for teachers if they find these standards don’t work.”
LaFors said Common Core is new “and there’s going to be some growing pains.” The new standards will provide schools the benchmarks they need, she said. “We can’t be in a system where we don’t know where our children stand.”
She disputed accounts that the standards will force teachers into a single method of instruction or that Common Core is locked down and cannot be changed.
“I just cannot share that perspective,” she said.
Jordan-Koch asked people who attended the event to seek answers to their questions. But he urged them not to take on teachers, he said, since they probably have some of the same questions.
Angela Weinzinger, president of the board of trustees for the Travis School District, praised the town hall.
“There hasn’t been one like this,” she said.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.